Rich in both natural beauty and a storied past, the Outer Banks of North Carolina are anchored in the area’s maritime traditions, where shipwrecks, sailing, pirates and more play major roles in local history! The North Carolina Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving the coast’s maritime past and providing visitors with an ample amount of information. Consisting of three museums in Hatteras, Beaufort and Southport, the North Carolina Maritime Museum is all but a required stop for history enthusiasts and casual fans alike. Before you visit, here’s what you need to know about the museums!

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum – Hatteras, NC

Named for the mass amount of sunken ships that lay off North Carolina’s coast, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum will give visitors an educational look into the perils and battles that ships and sailors in the area have faced throughout history. From the notorious pirate Blackbeard, to Civil War crews and German U-boats, the waters off the shores of the Outer Banks have a past of claiming seafaring vessels and their personnel. Features of the museum include the annual Graveyard of the Atlantic Underwater Heritage Symposium, the Aleta mailboat exhibit, the weekly Salty Dawg Lecture series, and the many shipwreck artifacts that the museum houses. Read up on the history of shipwrecks and the museum’s exhibits, or the pirate history and naval battles that have occurred off the coast of North Carolina.

North Carolina Maritime Museum – Beaufort, NC

Experience the history and culture of the North Carolina coastal life at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort! Pirate lovers will love this museum location! Visitors can explore the artifacts of Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship captained by the pirate Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, known for terrorizing the coast of North Carolina. The museum is also home to the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, where the art of custom boatbuilding is alive and well. Learn about the history of the craft, witness boats being built, and register to take a variety of boat building courses. Summer Camp programs, fishing lessons and much more are in store here!

North Carolina Maritime Museum – Southport, NC

Exhibits at this museum cover the exploration of Cape Fear and foundation of Charlestowne in the 17th century to the steamboat era of the 1800s and the fishing industry integral to Southport, and nearly everything that’s North Carolina maritime! Several lighthouses from dot area, including some that were constructed prior to the Civil War, which can be seen from the museum’s authentic periscope! Like Beaufort, Southport’s Cape Fear contains a rich pirate history, and visitors will enjoy learning about it at the museum’s pirate exhibit.

Where to Stay

No matter what location you visit, the North Carolina Maritime Museum will keep you busy as you explore the fascinating maritime history of the shores of the Outer Banks. Settlers, pirates, fishermen, and naval ships from multiple American wars – they all play an important role in the area’s culture and past. When you stay at a Shoreline OBX vacation rental, you’ll be about an hour and a half away from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras! The other two museum locations require a bit more driving, but you’re on vacation, so take your time. Contact us today about our vacation rentals, and experience for yourself the beauty of the North Carolina’s coast. And for even more recommendations of things to do in the Outer Banks, be sure to download our free OBX Vacation Guide!